Text by EIMOR SANTOS and DANIEL ABUNALES
Video by DANIEL ABUNALES
FOR most people, it was just another Wednesday afternoon but 18 year-old Carl Lorania could not contain his excitement as guests filled the Ayala Museum to witness the “Children of the Earth” art exhibit.
Carl, a teenage wheelchair user who has cerebral palsy, is one of 39 artists whose works are on display at the museum’s Artistspace Gallery.
“Children of the Earth” compiles the best artworks by children with disabilities (CWD) from Metro Manila. The initiative started in 2004 when Philippine Association for Citizens with and Learning Disabilities (PACDLD) conducted an art workshop for CWDs. Since then it has become an annual event.
PACDLD, a nongovernment organization founded in 2001, supports persons with disabilities (PWDs) by providing their families support and information. It gives priority to PWDs in the grassroots level and is a member of the National Anti-Poverty Commission under the PWD sector.
In 2009, the group decided to set-up an exhibit to showcase the outstanding works of the children. The exhibit started at the Metropolitan Museum. Two years later, it moved to the Museo Pambata.
The current crop of artworks are from the ninth annual Arts and Crafts Workshop of CWDs held at the National Library during the Children’s Month celebration on October 20, 2012. Last year’s theme was “Fiesta Philippines” where kids painted, molded clay, and produced artworks inspired by colorful local festivals such as the Panagbenga of Baguio City, Parol of Cebu and Maskara of Bacolod City.
The workshop was facilitated by head artist Gari Apolonio of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Martin De Mesa of the College of St. Benilde, and Rosel and Jon Valenzuela of the Philippine Art Educators Association (PAEA). The parents and guardians of the 50 participating CWDs also assisted them.
Back in October, Carl, with the help of his father Felipe, painted a flower using stamps made out of chopped fruits and vegetables like calamansi, string beans and broccoli. His father, Felipe said this has helped Carl overcome his shyness and have more self confidence.
Carl told VERA Files then that he learned a lot from the workshops adding, “I can go to places that I’ve never been before.” He said he was in Butuan three years ago because his paper mosaic and other artworks were displayed in an exhibit.
Carl cannot move his left hand and two feet so Felipe serves as his son’s hands and feet. When 62 year-old Felipe resigned from being a salesman in 2005, he focused all his time and attention to taking care of Carl.
Felipe also installed a wooden desk in Carl’s wheelchair so that he would not need to transfer seats if he needed to write, draw or eat.
After graduating from an elementary school, Carl stopped and stayed at home. This was after Felipe surveyed a number of high schools, all of which had no ramps for PWDs.
Since then, the father and son have participated in events organized by the PACDLD which serve as Carl’s fun learning experience.
“Through the arts workshop, the children were able to express what they cannot express verbally and openly… They have a sort of fulfilment and achievement when we exhibit their work, and we are able to discover exceptional talents as well,” Octavio Gonzales, PACDLD founder said.
Last year, several collectors and advocates of CWD rights generously patronized the artworks. In 2011, proceeds totalled P20,000.
“It’s for recreation and leisure, at the same time it’s also raising funds so that those children suspected [of having disabilities] can be diagnosed,” Jean Gonzales, PACDLD co-founder said.
According to PACDLD data, of the four million CWDs in the country, only one percent are properly diagnosed. This is because children in the grassroots usually cannot pay for the P3,000-P6,000 professional fees charged by the hospitals.
At the National Children’s Hospital, the children are examined for a fee of only P500, making it possible for the PACDLD to help diagnose a total of 30 CWDs in 2011.
Diagnosis is important in order to gauge the proper intervention needed by the child, the Gonzaleses noted.
The 1987 Constitution recognizes the children’s role in nation building and mandates the state to promote and protect their well-being.
“Children of the Earth” runs from February 20 to March 2, 2013 at the Artistspace in Ayala Museum.
Over 60 art enthusiasts and advocates joined the unveiling of the exhibit.
This is the second phase of the arts workshop that opened in time for the National Arts Month.